8 Ways to Prevent Heat Related Illness

Hiking in Utah can be fun and rewarding in all seasons with the right preparation.  Don’t let heat illness ruin your trip by following these prevention tips while hiking in hot weather.

1. Choose lightweight, light colored, loose clothing

Clothing that is loose and breathes allows the body to stay cooler.  Lighter colors also help reflect sunlight where as darker colors tend to absorb sunlight.

2. Wear a hat and sunscreen to prevent sunburns.

Sunburns affect the body’s ability to cool.  Wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen will help to prevent burns.

3. Avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day.

Hike early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the hottest parts of the day when exercising puts you most at risk.

4. Drink water and eat salty snacks.

Dehydration puts you at higher risk for a heat related illness.  Check your urine, the lighter the color the better and less likely you’re dehydrated.  Drinking sports drinks or eating salty snacks will reduce the likelihood that too many electrolytes are flushed from the body.

5. Get used to the heat. 

If you are coming to Utah from an area that doesn’t get nearly as hot, your body will need time to get used to the heat.  It can take weeks to get fully acclimatized so be especially careful in the early days.

6. Take it easy in hot weather. 

Plan to take shorter, easier hikes during hot weather.  Try to reduce or avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

7. Watch young children and older adults. 

Young children and older adults are not able to adjust to heat due to their nervous systems not working as effectively as healthy adults.  Babies and young children also cannot verbalize symptoms in the same way adults can. 

8. Be careful if you are at risk. 

Medications, alcohol use, and some health conditions can put individuals at higher risk for a heat related illness.  If you have a condition that puts you at higher risk be especially careful and get help at the first sign of illness.

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